American Dreams Pre-Draft: Discovering Ideas for a Topic

Lesson Plan on Discovering Ideas about a Topic for an Essay

Lesson objective: Introduce focused free writing as a pre-writing strategy to help students discover their ideas on an assigned topic, such as “American Dreams.”

Total estimated time: 100 minutes

Additional outcomes: Students will discover emerging ideas that can be developed through additional free-writing. Students will be able to use this strategy for other assignments.

Course work that’s underway: This writing will take place at the beginning of the course so that students can begin to discover what it is they think about when they hear the term “American Dreams.” Additional prompt questions can include: From where have you gotten your ideas about “American Dreams”? Who or what has influenced your ideas? This writing will serve as a good starting point as we move forward to explore “American Dreams” in many contexts and can also serve as a foundation for the first essay, a reflection on students’ own American Dreams.

Sequence of classroom activities: 

Students sit in a circle and write for 20 minutes non-stop in response to prompt questions (see above). At the end of 20 minutes, students read their writing aloud (approx. 60 minutes). It will be important for students to listen for key ideas that emerge and make note of them. After everyone has read, I will lead a discussion so that students will collectively create a list of key ideas that I will put on the board (10 min). Follow up can consist of additional in class writing on one or more of the key ideas so that further development can begin to take place.

Download: American Dreams PreDraft Discovering Ideas for a Topic (PDF)

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